'It’s Not on Obama. It’s Really Still on Us.'

Part two of The Root's exclusive interview with Bill Cosby.

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For eight television seasons (NBC, 1984-92), the Emmy Award-winning The Cosby Show, written by and starring comedian Bill Cosby, beamed an unflinching, yet humorous black family portrait into living rooms across America. Cosby, as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, presided over this historic foray into black upper-middle class life. The sitcom was a window into a certain, often enviable kind of black familial and romantic love, a showcase for amazing talent and a place where the situations or “problems” of a black family were mostly just the same as any other. The No. 1 hit celebrates its 25th anniversary this Sunday.

In this second installation of Cosby’s exclusive interview with The Root, the show’s creator shares the story of his political evolution, including strong words on black fatherhood, women in the Huxtable house, Joe Wilson, Jesse Jackson and rap music.

The Root: I read a recent speech on education you gave on Detroit—that’s policy, not just politics. Did you feel like you needed to do more?

Bill Cosby: You have to do more! …. The Detroit speech was my reaction to 460 young men, black and Hispanic, between the ages of 16 to 25, being murdered by their own. This is insane. And then when you look into the areas where the education is 70 percent dropout. You start with a class of 100 kids in ninth grade, and by the time they reach the twelfth, 30 people graduate.

They need love. They need Huxtabling. I have said out loud: The revolution is in the house. It’s in the apartment. The revolution is in your apartment building; it’s on your street, it’s in your neighborhood.

TR: You’ve suggested Barack Obama is a unique phenomenon—is he so exceptional?

You can’t get elected because of somebody you see on TV ….

Now, there are people crying because they don’t want [Obama] to tell their children something where he may influence them. What is that about? These people are calling him all kinds of names. They’re begging politicians to ‘stop him.’ They’re calling him a Marxist socialist, and then in the middle of a speech where a man is trying to straighten out the lies that are being told on health care reform, and a man stands up and says ‘You lie!’

TR: When your TV son, Theo, asked to be “a regular person,” Cliff yelled at him. You’ve brought that disciplinary instinct across the country, to your ‘call-outs,’ and to your infamous “Pound Cake Speech” to the NAACP. Is this, as Jesse Jackson says, “talking down to black people”?

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM